Did you all see the huge announcement from Warner Bros. yesterday? For 2021, they’ll be streaming all their new release movies directly to HBO Max the same day they hit theaters. That means Wonder Woman, Dune, The Matrix 4 and every other movie from the studio can be watched right from home.
So that has us thinking…The holidays this year might need to be all about the blinged out home theater.
We’re seeing incredible attic-to-entertainment-room renovations on Pinterest and hearing of friends turning spare bedrooms into mini-theaters for their families, so now is a great time to splurge on some of the best tech to create your own movie theatre, right at home.
First, you might want to figure out the puzzling array of apps and subscriptions that HBO offers right now. Caroline has already broken it down for us, so you don’t have to pull your hair out. But just remember, this Warner Bros. announcement applies only to HBO Max.
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Related: All the HBO apps and services, explained. Because we’re confused too.
Gifts for a home movie theater: A really, really big screen
You have two options when it comes to what you’re actually going to watch the movies on. Some families will prefer an actual television…just a really, really big one. Others will prefer to project their movies on a screen or even a white wall. We’re even seeing curtains hung around them, the whole nine yards.
If you’re leaning toward a flat screen, we’d suggest the 65-inch LG OLED Smart TV. Here’s why: OLED tvs use self-lit pixels and a 4K AI processor, making colors more vivid and images sharper, giving you a dynamic movie-watching experience. Love the remote, which is voice and motion activated (think, Wii controller). Also this screen is optimized for gaming too, making it perfect for teen gaming nights at your house…once the quarantine is over. If you want even bigger, they have a larger size, but the 65-inch model is currently 22% off at Amazon.
Here’s what to think about when you’re considering a projector for your movie room. First, the cost. A top-of-the-line Samsung projector (shown above) that gives you a perfect 130-inch picture will run around $6500. You’ll feel like you’re at the movies, for sure. This projector has smart-TV features, built-in sound, and Alexa and Google assistant compatibility. And you can project a huge, cinematic-quality image from a short distance. But this device certainly isn’t in everyone’s budget.
For about the same price as a good quality TV, you can get the LG Laser Smart CineBeam projector, which gives stellar images at up to 150-inches, has built-in speakers (and ports for external speakers too), and is highly portable. It’s a great option for families who might want to think about some outdoor movie nights over the summer as well, but do note that this one sits on the floor and projects the image on your wall or screen. The farther back you set it, the bigger the screen. So if you have kids who like to roughhouse while they watch, it may get knocked over.
And at the lower end of the budget, you can find the good quality Anker Nebula Capsule II projector, which is about the size of a soda can and truly portable. It projects a 100-inch screen, but you definitely lose the quality of image that you get with the other projectors.
Related: 4 awesome home projectors for a fab backyard movie night
Gifts for a home movie theater: A good sound system
Of course, TV sound quality has improved greatly over the years and most home projectors have built in sound capability, but you can boost it to give you that the experience with a minimal footprint by using a Sonos Beam sound bar.
I love this system for families because it’s one, small, streamlined piece—or two, if you choose the surround sound system. Either way, you’re not wiring and plugging in 10 different speaker and subwoofers across your room. Sonos sound quality is excellent too; with their subwoofer you get solid bass sound without the buzz that my cheap, out-of-date system at home has. Plus, it works with Alexa if you want to play your Amazon music library too.
Gifts for a home movie theater: A system your streaming movies
It’s important to know you can’t currently watch HBO Max on Roku, so if you’re hoping to stream all the new movies from Warner Bros., you’ll need a different streaming device.
If you’re a Mac user, I’d recommend an Apple TV 4th generation for the most seamless integration between all your devices. All your iTunes purchases are right there and you can easily screen share from your other Apple devices. Plus, you can still access all your Amazon digital purchases through the Prime app. It comes with a year of the Apple TV+ subscription for free, which means you’ll get to see the new Wolfwalkers movie that my family is obsessed with at the moment.
You can also watch HBO Max on the much more affordable Kindle Fire Stick. We use this device on our bedroom TV. It can be a bit glitchy at times and we occasionally have to restart our apps, but it’s been fine on this small screen. If you’re streaming films to a big screen, you’re going to want to get the highest quality Fire Cube instead.
Gifts for a home movie theater: Smart lighting
Don’t you hate getting all comfy on the couch under your blankets, with your popcorn in your lap, only to realize you forgot to turn out the lights for your family movie night? If you make the small investment in smart lighting for your home theater, you won’t have to ever suffer like that again (haha).
But seriously, I love how these $30 Lumary smart recessed light fixtures can turn a basic room into a space that feels like it’s state-of-the-art. Using voice control, these lights will change color, play music, and dim for the movies. If you’re using your theater space for video games, you can switch to a flashing lights mode for the total party feel.
Related: 10 gifts for gamer dads that will impress the heck out of him
Gifts for a home movie theater: Comfortable theater seats
If you have the space for it and really want to splurge on your at-home theater, then luxe theater seats are a really fun idea. These Latitude Run seats at Wayfair are currently 43% off, so they’re basically buy one get one free, right? They fully recline, have storage space and cup holders in the arms, and even have LED lighting under the seat like the real movie theater does. Super fancy, and super fun.
Gifts for a home movie theater: Snacks!
For my kids, the best part of going to the movies is the snacks, and you can recreate the snack bar feeling by setting up their favorite treats in your home theater. A nice stash of candy is a good start, but we love the idea of your own personal popcorn machine, as long as everyone can butter theirs just the way they like.
And although I personally think it’s pretty gross, my kids would absolutely freak out over our own ICEE machine at home. That said, if we can double it as a margarita maker I may reconsider.